University of Leicester
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People, parks and processes : a political ecology of conservation and development in Northwest Argentina

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:38 authored by Thomas Tanner
This study analyses socio-economic conditions and patterns of natural resource use in communities of the Andean Mountains of Northwest Argentina. It examines the impacts of protected area creation and the application of neoliberal development policy, which has become common across most of Latin America in recent decades, on two villages in Jujuy Province neighbouring Calilegua National Park. Using a political ecology framework to examine fieldwork and interview-based research, the study investigates the nature of factors influencing rural livelihoods in the region, both proximate and distant. The use of formal interviews and a case study to match rhetoric to practice uncovers deficiencies of the national protected areas system in Argentina. The example illustrates the pervasiveness of misanthropic, preservationist models rather than demonstrate the widespread adoption of people-oriented approaches to conservation. In common with many protected areas in South America, the creation of Calilegua National Park resulted in the displacement of tenant farmers, which has contributed to the reduced viability of traditional pastoral activity as a livelihood within the market system. Traditional agriculture retains an important role however, and the study reveals the diversity and dynamism of socio-economic activities and identities in rural areas of Latin America, rendering problematic assumptions of homogeneity commonly made by distant policy-makers. The increased prevalence of local waged employment has been aided by government schemes and has led to the emergence of newly configured networks of political clientalism at the village level based on asymmetrical relationships of reciprocity. This presents a paradoxical increase in the influence of the state within a development model that stresses reliance on market mechanisms and the withdrawal of government. Commonly acknowledged in the shantytowns of the city but largely unexplored in their contemporary rural context, these relationships are considered to threaten future sustainable economic and political development in marginal rural areas.


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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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